Westchester’s Ridge Hill and Yonkers Partners in Education Announce Workshops for 3rd Session and Celebrate Success Stories of RHA Alumni
YONKERS, NY—Wednesday, March 12, 2014—Yesterday marked the start of the third session of Ridge Hill Academy, an innovative partnership between Yonkers Partners in Education (YPIE) and Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) that represents a tremendous investment in the future of the young people of Yonkers. Students from local high schools who will participate in the 3rd session workshops were joined by recent graduates of the course, as well as Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano; Yonkers City Council President Liam McLaughlin; City Council Members Christopher Johnson and Michael Sabatino; Symra Brandon representing Senate Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Robert Voorhies representing Assembly Member Shelley Mayer; Kathryn Welch, Executive Vice President, Retail Development FCRC; Andrew Hardy, Ridge Hill General Manager; and, Wendy Nadel, Executive Director of YPIE.
The career-exploration program—funded by Forest City Ratner as part of a $100,000 grant to YPIE—teaches participating Yonkers public school students about management careers in the shopping center retail industry, including retail and restaurant management, healthcare, operations, security and maintenance management, public relations and marketing. The initiative builds on YPIE’s commitment to provide students with the information and tools they need to launch into college and career paths that will result in a fulfilling and stable future.
“The Ridge Hill Academy is a shining example of how private and public partnerships can result in the vital growth of our students and communities,” said Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano. “I applaud Forest City Ratner and Yonkers Partners in Education for this innovative effort in providing our Yonkers public students with the real-life experience needed to assist them in making educated decisions about college and beyond.”
YPIE’s mission is to increase the number of Yonkers Public School students who complete a post-secondary program that prepares them for a successful career. YPIE partners with the Yonkers Public School District, business and philanthropic communities and higher education institutions offering a wide range of programs to students and families in Yonkers. Ridge Hill Academy (RHA) is one of the few programs designed for sophomores and juniors to learn about the opportunities in the retail and shopping center industry, as well as the professional skills and educational requirements needed to succeed in business. RHA requires an application process and students are accepted from a variety of the local high schools.
Ridge Hill Academy is bringing real world experience to our teens that classrooms alone cannot provide,” said Council President, Liam McLaughlin. “This partnership between city schools, Ridge Hill Shopping Center and its wonderful tenants teaches it is the private sector that is key to our city’s growth and revitalization. We must continue to attract more great corporate citizens to our city to create jobs that in turn create economic and educational opportunities like Ridge Hill Academy.”
Each week of the 10-week program will focus on a different area of retail and shopping center management.
Speaking to the incoming class of students, two recent graduates spoke of their experience:
"My advice to the new students of Ridge Hill Academy is to keep an open mind. Some of you may have an idea which week is going to be most important, but you do not want to take any presentation lightly. There is something to learn from each and every person who will present, and you should make it a goal to walk out of the shopping center every week with some new knowledge," said Rakin Ahmed, Junior, Gorton High School.
‘Not only did this program educate me about businesses, it helped improve my inner confidence," said Imani Stinson, Junior, Lincoln High School.
In addition to learning from FCRC and operational partners Securitas USA, LAZ and CBS about areas like marketing, retail center security, parking/traffic and maintenance, students will meet and interact with management professionals at partner organizations like L.L. Bean (retail management), Frannie’s Goodie Shop (food retail operations), The Cheesecake Factory (restaurant management),WESTMED (medical center management), and National Amusements Showcase Cinema de Lux (theater management). Whole Foods will also be acting as “Snack Sponsor.”
“We are very excited with the feedback we have gotten from the graduates of the first two sessions. The students seem to agree that this is a unique experience that generates many thoughts about the variety of career opportunities available to them and the training they need to pursue those careers’, said Executive Vice President and Director of Retail Development for FCRC, Kathryn Welch. “We have so many management professionals here at Ridge Hill with useful career knowledge to share with students. The Ridge Hill Academy is building on what Yonkers Partners in Education is already doing to help students prepare for life after high school.”
The ten-week program will enable participants to rotate among vendors and retail establishments at Ridge Hill to learn about various careers and the educational paths needed to get there. They will also participate in a series of job readiness and skill-building workshops focused on resume writing, interviewing and workplace etiquette. Each Academy graduate will be awarded a certificate indicating they successfully completed the program, and will have an opportunity to apply for summer internships and jobs. "Yonkers Partners in Education is grateful to Forest City Ratner and Ridge Hill for their commitment to the students of Yonkers and the continuation of Ridge Hill Academy. Bringing students out of the classroom and introducing them to successful adults is a unique, hands-on way for young people to explore retail and management careers and the academic preparation required to succeed." Wendy Nadel, Executive Director, Yonkers Partners in Education.
This pilot program of Ridge Hill Academy is a model for any number of businesses and educational networks that could be replicated across the country. The goal is to foster an environment in which high school students are exposed to the greater mix of career opportunities that exist beyond the public face of retail. Forest City Ratner is leading the way in this collaborative effort between business, education, and community groups.
About Yonkers Partners In Education
About Westchester’s Ridge Hill
Located at Exit 6A off the New York State Thruway and at the Tuckahoe Road West Exit from the Sprain Brook Parkway, Ridge Hill is easily accessible to all Westchester, Putnam and NYC Metropolitan-area residents and visitors. Westchester’s Ridge Hill features 160,000 square feet of office space—approximately 110,000 square feet of which is occupied by WESTMED Medical Group offices and urgent care center.
About Forest City Ratner Companies